A drag queen story hour in the Seaport was canceled Sunday after a neo-Nazi group gathered outside, marking the latest in a string of recent incidents involving hate groups openly demonstrating in Boston.
Masked members of NSC-131, described by the Anti-Defamation League as a neo-Nazi group, assembled Sunday afternoon outside a building on Harbor Way where drag performer Patty Bourrée and friends were scheduled to perform for families.
Bourrée said on Twitter that the presence of the hate group prompted the cancellation of the event, which was billed online as a performance that allows children to “see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish and where dress up is real.”
“I just could not face the neo-nazis today[.] I said turn this Uber around,” Bourrée tweeted Sunday at 2:06 p.m., adding 30 minutes later: “I really hate that I canceled a story hour today because two protest groups were present, but I can’t put myself (and the kids!) in a potentially violent situation especially when I don’t trust that the BPD will protect me in a worst-case scenario.”
The identity of the second group that Bourrée referenced wasn’t immediately clear.
A photo of the NSC-131 members standing outside the Seaport building was posted to Twitter from an account called Waltham Night’s Watch, which monitors far-right extremist activity in the area. In the photo, group members are masked and holding a large banner with a message that is obscured. A line of uniformed Boston police officers stands across from them at the entrance to the property.
Boston police Sergeant Detective John Boyle, the department’s chief spokesman, said Monday that no one was arrested in connection with the Seaport incident.
Robert Trestan, the Anti-Defamation League’s New England regional director, said intimidation is NSC-131′s main objective during such demonstrations.
“As a community, we need to stand up to that and not be intimidated, and we need to ensure that the moment they cross the line from free speech to criminal behavior, they are held 100 percent accountable,” he said.
“People should not change the way they live or how they celebrate in any way,” he added. “We can push back by living our lives the way we choose.”
Last month, police arrested NSC-131 founder Christopher R. Hood Jr., 23, of Pepperell, in Jamaica Plain, where he was leading about 20 masked men demonstrating outside a historic 18th-century home where families had gathered for a children’s drag queen story hour, also featuring Bourrée.
The presence of Hood and his followers outside the Loring Greenough House on July 23 marked the second time that month that a sizable group of extremists had staged a public demonstration in Boston. On July 2, about 100 members of the Patriot Front hate group marched through the city’s downtown, surprising law enforcement officials, who said they had no advance warning.
In March, police arrested Hood in South Boston, where masked demonstrators wearing NSC-131 attire displayed a banner that read, “Keep Boston Irish” during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He was charged with public drinking, but the complaint was dismissed prior to his arraignment, court records show.
The increase in neo-Nazi activity prompted US Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office last week to launch an “End Hate Now” hotline, where people who suspect white supremacist activity or any type of hate crime can report it by calling 1-83-END-H8-NOW (1-833-634-8669).
Bourrée said Monday that it’s “quite frustrating and angering” to be targeted by a hate group.
“A lot of the narrative that these groups spread is that this is something that I really seek out” to be in the presence of children, Bourrée said. “I’m a full-time performer, and this is something that communities invite me in to do — communities, corporations, all kinds of people. They are the ones who have the desire to put on these types of events, whether it’s a community putting forth pro-LGBTQ values, whatever they’re trying to signal. ... It’s work that I do to support my life.”
Future performances are “going to have to be a lot more planned by me and the drag community, so it can be safe and a little more centralized probably,” Bourrée said. “It’s made me a more active participant and more passionate about this work that they’re so afraid of.”
Russ Lopez, a local historian and the author of “Hub of The Gay Universe: An LGBTQ History of Boston, Provincetown, and Beyond,” said there hasn’t been this type of organized attack on Boston’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in decades.
“This is something you really haven’t seen since the ‘50s or ‘60s, when police would go and crack down on the bars around the city,” he said. “Now, it’s some shadow group, and I think that’s a whole new thing.”
Law enforcement officials historically have surveilled and infiltrated groups on both the left and the right. Lopez questioned whether those tactics are being used against groups like NSC-131.
“If this was a gay group doing something wrong, you know they’d be all over us,” he said. “But this group, they can’t get a finger on them.”
He said he expects similar demonstrations outside LGBTQ+ events will continue.
“It’s sad and it’s frightening,” Lopez said. “I know folks have been talking about it in the LGBTQ community and it really has everyone on edge. ... And no one seems to be able to stop them.”
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report. Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed reporting.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.